For a Song and a Hundred Songs by Liao Yiwu
A Poet's Journey through a Chinese Prison

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A rare eyewitness account by a Chinese dissident who managed to flee to the West to gain his freedom and tell his story.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

WINNER OF THE 2012 GERMAN BOOK TRADE PEACE PRIZE

In June 1989, news of the Tiananmen Square protests and its bloody resolution reverberated throughout the world. A young poet named Liao Yiwu, who had until then led an apolitical bohemian existence, found his voice in that moment. Like the solitary man who stood firmly in front of a line of tanks, Liao proclaimed his outrage—and his words would be his weapon.
 
For a Song and a Hundred Songs captures the four brutal years Liao spent in jail for writing the incendiary poem “Massacre.” Through the power and beauty of his prose, he reveals the bleak reality of crowded Chinese prisons—the harassment from guards and fellow prisoners, the torture, the conflicts among human beings in close confinement, and the boredom of everyday life. But even in his darkest hours, Liao manages to unearth the fundamental humanity in his cell mates: he writes of how they listen with rapt attention to each other’s stories of criminal endeavors gone wrong and of how one night, ravenous with hunger, they dream up an “imaginary feast,” with each inmate trying to one-up the next by describing a more elaborate dish.
 
In this important book, Liao presents a stark and devastating portrait of a nation in flux, exposing a side of China that outsiders rarely get to see. In the wake of 2011’s Arab Spring, the world has witnessed for a second time China’s crackdown on those citizens who would speak their mind, like artist Ai Weiwei and legal activist Chen Guangcheng. Liao stands squarely among them and gives voice to not only his own story, but to the stories of those individuals who can no longer speak for themselves. For a Song and a Hundred Songs bears witness to history and will forever change the way you view the rising superpower of China.

 

About Liao Yiwu

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Liao Yiwu is a writer, musician, and poet from Sichuan, China. He is a critic of the Chinese regime, for which he has been imprisoned, and the majority of his writings are banned in China. Liao is the author of The Corpse Walker and God Is Red . He has received numerous awards for his work, including the prestigious 2012 Peace Prize awarded by the German Book Trade and the Geschwister-Scholl-Preis in 2011 for the publication of his memoir in Germany. Wenguang Huang is a writer, journalist, and translator whose articles and translations have appeared in The Wall Street Journal Asia , Chicago Tribune , The Paris Review , Asia Literary Review , and The Christian Science Monitor . He also translated Liao's The Corpse Walker . In 2007, Huang received a PEN Translation Fund grant. Born in China, he currently lives in Chicago, Illinois.
 
Published June 4, 2013 by New Harvest. 432 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, History, Travel, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for For a Song and a Hundred Songs
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Larry Rohter on Jul 02 2013

...a compelling and harrowing read, full of details about the laogai system and stuffed with portraits of those subjected to it...

Read Full Review of For a Song and a Hundred Song... | See more reviews from NY Times

Kirkus

Good
on Apr 01 2013

A rare eyewitness account by a Chinese dissident who managed to flee to the West to gain his freedom and tell his story.

Read Full Review of For a Song and a Hundred Song... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Reader Rating for For a Song and a Hundred Songs
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